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Universities Are Making Waves in Sustainability and Recycling

Posted by Esther L. on 10/7/2019
Universities Are Making Waves in Sustainability and Recycling

Sustainability and recycling have become important battlefronts on university and college campuses, and we're keeping tabs on where, when and how those efforts are happening. It's easy to keep track, with 2019 Sustainability Campus Index, from Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The index ranks colleges and universities based on 17 sustainability factors.

Recently the Sierra Club even jumped into sustainability recognition, when the nonprofit applauded the efforts of the University of Connecticut, as a top-ranked sustainable campus. UConn is recognized not only for the scope of what they are doing now in retrofitting buildings, replacing outdated systems, and maximizing the use of state-of-the-art technology; but also for the more than 50% reduction in water use.

Why is The Sustainable Campus Ranking Important?

Why? Because sustainability and recycling don't just belong in the college classroom and degree programs; they must be integrated into every important facet of college life if there's any hope that it will really make an impact on the minds and lives of the students, faculty and staff. It's not enough to see a recycling station when you first arrive on campus. There must be easy access and reliable signage for recycling repositories and stations with the correct capacity in the right locations.

As every university and college will tell you, a successful sustainability and recycling program doesn't happen overnight.

  • The first step is usually a waste audit, which gives you the initial data about what your current situation is. It's impossible to implement change and improvement if you don't have a clear idea of where you are to begin with.
  • One of the most difficult tasks in any organization (big or small) is to get to an agreement or consensus on how you will strategically approach a program that will affect every building, service, and classroom across the campus or facility. To be most effective, you use consistent colors and graphics for your recycling bins and stations.
  • Timing and careful implementation are also key to a program's success. You need the student body to get excited about the impact they are making, but you can also generate hype by offering prizes and recognition for students who are going above and beyond in their recycling efforts.

It may not be easy to start a recycling program, but once you get it started and you start reaching out to the student body, your efforts can really take on a life of their own. You're part of a team that's made up of your custodial staff, professors, administration, and also all the students. When you realize that you're all in this together, you can start to seek out feedback, listen to dreams and musings, as you implement those ideas that really will create the wide-spread change in recycling and sustainability that you need on campus.

How Recycle Away Can Help

At Recycle Away we offer the products and services to support your recycling efforts at your university, even in the face of severe cut-backs. We offer bulk discounts and consulting services that will help you roll out the recycling solutions that will work best for your university. Our goal is to help you implement solutions that not only fit into your culture and sustainability objectives, but that are also cost-effective and streamlined for you.